Mount Meru Millers Zambia Limited intends to grow its support to soya bean farmers.

The proposal to reach over 2,000 beneficiaries from 600 under the Chibombo out-grower scheme is a way of promoting diversification.

Dharmesh Patel, Chief Operating Officer said Mount Meru is engaging small-scale farmers in Chibombo and surrounding areas to venture into farming to boost their liquidity and improve livelihoods.

Patel told Zambia Daily Mail that the firm will continue supporting private sector-driven investment to help smallholder farmers overcome low productivity, lack of infrastructure and financing that keep them from growing soya bean.

He said once government removes the 16 percent value added tax (VAT) on cooking oil, more smallholder farmers will take up agriculture as a business.

Patel is optimistic that this will also help create a ready and reliable market for farmers’ harvests.

“Mount Meru offers refined oil, soya, cotton and sunflower meal. We also have plans of putting up a margarine plant but at the moment, we are a bit sceptical about investing further.

“However, if government removes VAT on edible oil, a lot of industries will flourish,” he said.

Patel said the VAT issue has resulted in farmers getting lower prices for their product that is currently, selling at K2.70 per kilogramme compared to K5 in the previous years.